Useful Tips

How to make a decision if in doubt? Best practices


Today I will tell you what methods will allow you make the right decision and learn to make decisions in general. This article will be based not only on my experience, but also on the decision-making methodology outlined in the famous book by Chip Hiz and Dean Hiz - “Traps of Thinking”. This technique helps to make an effective choice in business, in love relationships, in career and in education. Here I will outline the main points of this technique, as well as talk about what helps me personally in finding the right solutions.

Do not think and choose, but try! If there is an opportunity in reality to implement a “pilot” version of the solution, then do not neglect this opportunity. Authors Chip and Dan Heath ask, “Why predict if you can know?”

If you want to move to another country for a long time, it is better to go there at least a month to start and try to live there in the same conditions in which immigrants live.

If you can’t choose between two car brands, do a test drive!

The book "Thinking Traps" provides an interesting study that shows that job interviews give the most inaccurate forecast as to whether an employee is suitable for this position or not. A much more effective prognosis can be given by a trial period of several weeks. Only an experiment in real conditions can speak of a solution more explicitly!

If the "pilot" option is impossible to carry out, then return to the "method 3", get information. Before starting your own business, talk to young entrepreneurs, find out what difficulties they encountered, think about whether you can somehow get through these difficulties.

No experience? But there is a stranger! Find someone who has already solved your problem. And do not step on another's rake!

Method 8 - Install Mine Stretch Marks

Mine stretch marks is a term coined by Chip and Dan Heath, which refers to conditions (mostly unfavorable) that trigger certain actions.
When we make a decision, we can fall into the trap of arrogance. It may seem to us that everything will be fine. But when the problems begin, we will no longer be able to turn back, because we are strongly attached to our choice.

"Mine stretch marks" will avoid this. For example, you decide to open your own business. Your forecast says that you will be fine, and in a year you will become rich. But what if something goes wrong?

Formulate the conditions upon which you will change your mind. For example, if in a year your investments do not pay off at least 50%, you will stop investing in a loss-making business.

Firstly, this approach will help to avoid difficult situations. Secondly, it will allow you to see the hidden risks and somehow prepare for them, identify the path of retreat and be great realists regarding your choice. Thirdly, you will be less attached to your choice, since put “stretch marks” upon the attack on which you will look for another solution.

“What will happen if I don't get the promised growth for the first year at a new job?”
“What will I do if, having moved to a new country, I will encounter problems providing for myself?”

Ask yourself these questions more often.

This method should not justify your indecision. It is designed to save you from excessive arrogance and prepare for the problems that always happen.

Method 9 - Listen to Criticism

Earlier in the article, I said that a good way to get rid of instant emotions is to think about what you would recommend to a friend. But why, in cases where you have doubts about decisions, do not ask a real friend to give you advice?

Here, of course, there is a small problem. Criticism is very good, but you need to be able to draw the right conclusions from it, since it is not always impassive. People often project their own fears and expectations onto other people when they give them advice.

For example, your friend worked for many years at a hired job, so when you ask him whether, for example, you should open your own business, he can tell you a categorical “no.” After all, his personal life choice is not connected with this and he, advising you something, will protect his life model. Such protection will give him the opportunity to believe that he himself made the right choice in life. It’s just worth considering such psychological moments and making corrections for them.

But at the same time, you should not completely discount such criticism. Think of your friend as the “devil's advocate,” who helps you get rid of your overconfidence, and criticizing him as an indication of the weaknesses of your decision, and not as a complete denial of that choice.

Yes, your own business involves risks and instability, as your friend says. But it does not at all follow from this that he should prefer hired work, since business has a number of advantages. Your friend gives you a picture, destined to the limits of his life experience. Your task is to take advantage of his vision, but place it in the framework of a broader view of the problem.

Then someone else’s criticism will help you complement the overall picture and balance your own arrogance with someone else’s insecurity.

Method 10 - When Not All These Methods Should Be Applied

If you look at all these methods, it seems that decision making is a very complex process. In fact, these methods are designed to help you make a choice in which each alternative is determined by a set of advantages and disadvantages. But what if there are no flaws? What if you don’t lose anything if you choose an option?

Then forget about all these tips, act and see what happens.

For example, you saw a pretty girl on the street, you are single and just look for a mate. Stop scrolling pros and cons in your head. You will not lose anything if you come and get to know each other. This is an absolutely simple solution.

Such situations are an exception. The more you think and weigh decisions in them, the greater the uncertainty and the chance to miss an opportunity. Therefore, where the choice does not cost you anything, think less and act less!

Conclusion - A Little About Intuition

The methods I talked about are attempts to formalize decision making. Give clarity and clarity to this process. But I do not want to belittle the role of intuition.

These methods should not confuse you, instilling in you an illusory confidence that any decisions lend themselves to reason and dry analysis. This is not true. Often the choice is characterized by a lack of complete information and you will have to come to terms with the fact that in many situations you cannot know in advance with 100% certainty which solution will be better. Sometimes you just need to choose something, and then it will become clear whether you made the right choice or not.

Therefore, you need to use intuition, instead of waiting until your methods give you an unambiguous forecast of the correctness of one or another alternative. But at the same time, one cannot overestimate her role and rely too much on her “gut”. For this, there is a formalized approach that is designed to balance the balance between your mind and feelings, logic and intuition. In the right balance between these things lies the art of decision making!

Decision Making Methods

Basically, two decision-making strategies are used - heuristics and an algorithm. Thinking algorithmically, a person carefully studies and analyzes, compares the pros and cons of a particular option. Heuristics saves us time because it appeals to emotions, intuition, preferences, inner convictions, dispensing with “costing”.

In the case of a difficult choice, it seems wiser to think carefully over several times before making a final decision. Meanwhile, people are often guided, rather, by heart rather than reason - even in the case of decisions that affect their whole life (for example, when choosing a life partner). How to understand what is better for us in this situation?

Depending on the rank of the problem, a person usually uses from 1 to 3 decision-making strategies. What methods are used in making life choices?

1. Getting information from others

When you do not know what to decide, you often enjoy the support of loved ones, friends, family. You are consulting, looking for more information. If you need to make a difficult decision, you should consult with others, ask what they would do in such a situation. Brainstorming, exchanging opinions with others helps to look at the problem from a new perspective.

2. Postponement of the decision in time

If no one and nothing helps, take your time and give yourself time. You may temporarily not feel strong enough to make decisions that can affect your whole life. Postponing the decision for later may be a good idea, because during this time new facts may appear that will help make a choice. But it is important not to postpone it indefinitely, in the end you need to decide.

1. The method of pros and cons

Use the good old way: take a sheet of paper and a pen, draw a sheet in half. In the left column write all the pluses of the selected solution, in the right column, respectively, the minuses. Do not limit yourself to a few items: the list should contain 15-20 points. Then calculate what will be more. Profit!

Essence of the method a: even if you endlessly scroll the pros and cons in your head, you are unlikely to see the full picture. Psychologists advise compiling written lists: this helps to organize the accumulated information, visually see the ratio of pluses and minuses, and draw conclusions based on pure mathematics. Why not?

Psychologists advise writing lists

4. Choosing the least evil

Not always the choice is between good-better or good-worse: you have to choose between two not the most attractive options. How to choose one of two equally unpleasant alternatives?

You need to choose what carries fewer potentially negative consequences, and come to terms with the decision. There are things that we are simply not able to influence. Therefore, it is sometimes easier to come to terms with the need to make a decision with bad consequences than to make such a choice.

2. Build Your Habits

This method is suitable if it is difficult for you to make a choice in household matters. For example, to raise the salary of a new employee or not worth it yet, put a call back from Envybox or another company on the site. What to eat for dinner, in the end, french fries or fish with vegetables. A difficult decision, of course, but still not a matter of life and death. In this case, it is useful to consciously establish habits and continue to follow them. For example, enter the iron rule: increase salaries to employees only after six months of work in your company. Buying office supplies exclusively from Skrepka is cheaper for them. There are light and healthy dishes for dinner - you yourself will soon say thank you. Well, with the call back you get it, yes.

The essence of the method : following the habits, you will make simple decisions on the machine, saving yourself from unnecessary thoughts, without wasting precious time on nonsense. But then, when you need to make a truly responsible and important choice, you will be fully equipped.

5. Before choosing, analyze

This is a strategy related to algorithmic thinking. Make up the pros and cons of each of the alternatives and choose the one that has more positive consequences. In other words, a balance is drawn of the profits and losses associated with the choice of one option and the rejection of another. However, such a cold calculation is not always possible, because sometimes emotions take precedence over reason.

3. The If-Then Method

This method is suitable for resolving current problems in business, team, personal life. For example, your employee speaks impolite with customers and does not respond to comments. Question: immediately fire him or try to re-educate him? Try using the if-then technique. Tell yourself: if he once again allows himself to mistreat a client, you will deprive him of a bonus. If the incident recurs - fire.

The essence of the method: as in the first case, this is the creation of conditional boundaries within which you will act. The load will immediately fall from the soul, and life will become much easier. And most importantly, you don’t have to spend time thinking and thinking about the fate of a negligent employee.

6. Act under the influence of the moment.

Sometimes there is neither time nor opportunity to consider the proposals received for a long time. Then you need to make a decision spontaneously, right away, with a hot hand. In this case, it is better to trust your instinct, inner voice. Not always, guided by emotions, we act recklessly. In retrospect, it turns out that this is the right decision, so trust yourself and your intuition.

4. Use the 10/10/10 rule

He was invented by the famous American journalist Suzy Welch. The rule is this: before making a difficult decision, stop and answer three questions:

  • what will you think about it after 10 minutes,
  • how do you feel about your choice after 10 months,
  • what do you say in 10 years?

We give an example. Take a young man who works as a manager, does not like work, but suffers, because money is needed. She dreams of quitting, taking out a loan and starting her own business - a small pub, but at the same time she is desperately afraid to burn out and lose everything that she has. In general, the classic case when a titmouse in the hands prefer a crane in the sky.

It is difficult for our hero to take the first step - quit hating work. Let's say he does this. Ten minutes later, he is unlikely to have time to regret the decision. After 10 months, he will have time to rent a room, equip a pub and receive customers. And if it doesn’t work out - he will find the manager’s work anyway - so what to regret? Well, after 10 years, this choice is unlikely to have any meaning at all: either the business will continue, or our hero will work elsewhere - one of two things. It turns out, if you follow the rule 10/10/10, to make a decision does not become such a difficult task, because a person clearly understands what awaits him in the future.

The essence of the method : when making a difficult decision, we are usually overwhelmed by emotions: fear, anxiety, or vice versa, joy and excitement. A person feels it right here and now, feelings obscure the prospects of the future before him. Remember, as with Yesenin: “face to face, you can’t see the face, the big is seen at a distance”. While the future seems vague and vague, the choice of solution will be delayed again and again. Making specific plans, presenting his emotions in detail, a person rationalizes the problem and stops being scared of the unknown - after all, it becomes simple and understandable.

Use the rule 10/10/10

7. Descartes Square

One of the most effective and easiest ways to make a difficult decision. You are invited to analyze any situation or problem from different points of view. To make the right decision, answer four questions by looking at the image below.

Be careful when answering the fourth question, because your brain will try to ignore double negation and try to answer, as in the first paragraph. Do not let this happen!

Why is this method so effective? When you are in a situation that requires you to make a difficult decision, you often get stuck at the first point - what happens if it happens? However, the Cartesian square allows us to look at the problem multifaceted and make carefully thought-out and informed choices.

5. Decide within 15 minutes

Paradoxical as it may seem, the most important strategic decisions should be made in 15 minutes. A familiar situation: a serious problem has arisen in the company that requires immediate action, but the bottom line is that no one knows the right solution. For example, competitors have done disgusting things and it’s not clear what to do: answer the same or leave the situation with dignity. Or the crisis hit your company, and you are confused: to move to a less prestigious place or to reduce from a dozen employees. How can I make the right choice, and is it there? And you begin to pull, unable to make a decision, in the hope that everything will resolve by itself.

If you do not know which solution is right, just imagine that there is no right answer in this life task. Give yourself 15 minutes and take any, that's absolutely any decision. Yes, at first glance it may seem nonsense. But what about planning, but what about testing and verifying solutions? Ok-ok, if you can quickly and with a minimum of investments check the correctness of the solution - check. If for this you need months of time and millions of rubles - it is better to abandon this idea and immediately note the time.

The essence of the method : is it worth saying that if you drag the time, nothing is solved: crises do not pass, the rental price does not decrease, and competitors become even more toothy. Одно непринятое решение тянет за собой другие, бизнес провисает и становится неэффективным. Как говорится, лучше сделать, чем пожалеть, чем не сделать и пожалеть.

8. Метод PMI

Как эффективно принимать трудные решения? Можно воспользоваться методом Эдварда де Боно - методом PMI. Эта аббревиатура является производной английских слов (plus, minus, interesting). Метод очень прост. Он основывается на том, что перед принятием решения оно всесторонне оценивается. On a piece of paper a table is drawn with three columns (pros, cons, interesting), and in each of the columns the arguments for and against are indicated. In the column “interesting” everything is written that is not good and not bad, but at the same time connected with the decision.

Below is an example. Solution: whether to rent an apartment on the outskirts with a girlfriend?

Pros: Minuses: Interesting:
a pleasant company of a familiar person,

You can rent a better apartment

far from the city center

smaller footage

club life style girlfriend.

in doubt

that we get along with a friend.

When this table is drawn up, a score is made of each of the arguments in accordance with the direction (arguments for are indicated by pluses, against - by minus). For example, for someone more important is more space than a pleasant society. At the end, the value of all arguments is summarized and it is determined whether the balance will be positive or negative.

The PMI method cannot be called innovative, it is fundamentally no different from how we make decisions in everyday life. It seems that he appreciates the strengths and weaknesses of this choice. There is nothing further from the truth. Most of us, when making a decision, in fact, from the very beginning take it for ourselves and then select the arguments that would justify our choice. Even if it turns out that our decision has 3 minus more, we will still choose it. People are actually not too rational, guided more by personal preferences, taste, etc. The pros and cons on a piece of paper will allow for an accurate analysis, at least when the emotions are partially turned off.

People are often afraid of the consequences of their choice and do not like to make decisions. They would willingly shift responsibility for their lives to other people. Unfortunately, if we want to be happy, we must learn to solve our own problems and bear the burden of life choices. There is no guarantee that others would do better for us. We will never know whether the options that we have chosen to ignore are better than us, so don’t cry over spilled milk and constantly regret the pluses of the rejected alternatives. Constantly lasting dissonance kills us morally.

6. Do not limit yourself to narrow frames.

The very thing that we wrote about at the beginning. Execute or pardon, buy a car or not, expand or wait for better times. One of two, pan or gone, eh, was not! But who said that the problem has only two solutions? Get out of narrow frames, try to look at the situation broader. It is not necessary to organize a large-scale expansion of production - just launch a couple of new positions. Instead of an expensive car, you can purchase a more modest option, for the fined employee to apply for the first time disciplinary measures.

The essence of the method : when there are only two possible solutions, there’s a greater chance of choosing the right solution, and many deliberately simplify their lives by dividing the situation into yes and no, black and white. But life is much more diverse: do not be afraid to look into her eyes and accept all possible options. The solution may be a compromise, a rejection of both extremes in favor of a third, completely unexpected decision or a successful combination of the two options. This often happens when the owner of a small business cannot decide what to do: sit on the phone, deliver orders or engage in only managerial activities. Start combining - and then see what works best. This will be the best solution to the problem.

See also: Yazhenachalnik, or how to properly delegate authority. What happens if you want to control everything?

Do not limit yourself to narrow frames.

7. Option exclusion method

And now, on the contrary: imagine that it is simply impossible for you to make a decision. It doesn’t matter what the reason is - under the terms of the game, this is completely impossible for you. For example, you don’t know whether to invite your best friend to work. On the one hand, it seems that the person is good, but on the other, it is not known whether he will pull this position and how it will affect your future friendship.

So, you have two options: register a friend or find another, more professional candidate. Now imagine that a friend has already been offered a job - that is, his candidacy disappears. What would you do in this case: would you post an ad on the Internet, use word of mouth, would you personally conduct interviews? Think about how many talented people could come to you, and ask yourself: do I really need that dude? We thought - and now go ahead: post announcements, call friends and schedule an interview.

The essence of the method : and again we will break the framework of the familiar, not only expanding them, but rather narrowing them down. Sometimes there is the only right decision that we do not see beyond the forest of false beliefs and beliefs.

8. Remember the Big Idea

About the Great Mission, the Big Idea - that’s what your whole company and entire business is based on. If you have already developed it, then making a decision will be easier for you. You just need to ask yourself: is the decision made contrary to the Big Idea?

If you still do not understand what this idea is, at least figure out what is most important to you. Want to make money - make sure that the decision does not lead to loss of profit. Strive to make customers happy - pay all attention to the service, whether the quality of your service will suffer. You act only by honest methods - check if your choice does not contradict moral standards, if your own conscience will not swallow you later.

The essence of the method: everything is simple here, do not deviate from your priorities - and you will be happy. Remember that the momentary gain, which subsequently comes with failures and loss of resources, is the wrong decision. An unscrupulous act that goes against your values ​​is the wrong decision. Sometimes it’s better to lose profits, but live in harmony with yourself and your life’s business.

Instead of a conclusion

We will not talk about the methods known to everyone: consult with experienced friends and colleagues, study as much information as possible on the problem you are interested in, and trust intuition. This is so obvious. Of all the above methods, only one conclusion can be drawn. Need to make a difficult decision? Be a man, do it! In the end, the chances of making the right choice are very high: there is as much as 50 percent that the decision made will be correct.